March 12, 2005

Bud Talkinghorn: Putting some backbone in the up-coming Conservative policy convention

Putting some backbone in the up-coming Conservative policy convention

Rule number one: Forget the inevitable Liberal charges that will be leveled against any policy you agree on. Better to be hung as a wolf than as a sheep. Don't water down needed policy resolutions to please The Globe and Mail or The CBC. They are implacable opponents, who at best will damn you with faint praise for your moderate stances. Later they will accuse you of being wishy-washy, or trot out the classic charge of "having a hidden agenda". True, the party has to do a balancing act, what with the Red Tory rump and the social conservatives joined together in a shotgun wedding. Still, there surely are areas that can be championed simply because they are logical and economically sound.

Some of these areas are traditional marriage, lax security, gun control, refugee abuses, and gargantuan bureaucracy. The numbers are there to make traditional marriage a cornerstone issue. It is a vote-getter in the ethnic communities, none of whom accept the idea of same-sex marriage, religiously or culturally.

The recent massacre of the Mounties has galvanized the public's attention on the problem of inadequate criminal sentencing. Rozsko should never have been on the street. Earlier in his career he shot and wounded a teen who had ventured on his property. The charge of attempted murder was dropped by the Crown. The billion dollar gun registry's failure can be tied in as well. And every day provides new examples of major lapses in crime control. An example of this today was the announcement that Paul Cochrane, the ex-Deputy Minister of Health, will be sentenced to no more than one year in prison for his multi-million dollar scam. In exchange for millions in funding to a native drug rehab center, he received kickbacks--about two-thirds of a million, SUVs, NHL season tickets, plus other bribes. With the present justice system, Cochrane will be out in a few months. It wouldn't hurt to tie his 'punishment' to what can be expected should any of the sponsorship scandal guilty go to court.

As for the refugee system's absurdities, the Conservatives don't really have to worry about the immigrant vote. Most legitimate immigrants are furious at these queue jumpers. They cannot be happy either that the IRB has allowed in undocumented Middle Easterners. They take the subways too and they remember Ressam's idea of bombing the Montreal stations. There is also the cost of these bogus refugees that most Canadians are kept in the dark about. That cost is enormous, but the Conservatives have been terrified to bring it up because they fear being branded "racist". Well, again, the ethnic communities are paying for these freeloaders, crooks and welfare cheats, through their taxes. The ones I talk to are extremely resentful about this. Even the immigration system is a tempting target. The Liberals are poised to introduce increased family reunification levels. Statistics Canada has shown that this category is a drag on the economy and the health system. Handled the right way, these issues could even be better than neutral in getting votes from these communities. Support immigration and responsible refugee initiatives, but criticize the wrongheadedness of the current system.

Big government was a difficult issue to ignite the public behind, as the Liberals kept boasting that it wasn't affecting the economy. However the economic bubble has burst, with the final quarter of 2004 showing only a 0.2% productivity growth--the lowest in almost a decade. In fact, that number meant that the productivity growth for the past year was zero. It makes a mockery of the Finance Minister's crowing about how much better we were doing than the Americans. The Americans posted a 4% increase for 2004. The implication of our sorry performance is that it will stimulate outsourcing of jobs to the Third World--thus increasing unemployment at home. Already you can go to The Great WallMart of China to see how few Canadian-made goods are for sale there.

The Conservatives must stress that they will encourage productivity gains through more efficient industrial purchases. Give financial incentives to companies that up-date their equipment, instead of allowing the deadbeat corporate welfare schemes that the Liberals so love (Bombardier, et al have only paid back 5% of the billions 'loaned' to them by government.)

There is an additional attack tactic for the $5 billion, the national child care system. a bureaucracy that has bloat written all over its future. There is no way that it can be done for that amount. Just think of the ways its costs can spin out of control--bilingual considerations, translations, aboriginal concerns, formal training and certification of the caregivers, thousands of 'silly serpents' writing and re-writing regulations, proper daycare centers, etc. The mind boggles at the cost overrun possibilities. Then you have to hope that the entire Ministry is not overseen by an Alfonso Gagliano or a Paul Cochrane -- a Jane Stewart or a Pierre Pettigrew . Heap all these concerns on top of the number of voters who don't even want this socialist education (indoctrination as in Communist Russia and China?) The Conservatives should go for the throat on this one.

In short, be an Opposition, not a quasi-Liberal party.

© Bud Talkinghorn

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